Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cereal Box House Learning Center

A Cereal Box House??? It can be done using these easy-to-follow directions, photos, and diagrams!!  This Cereal Box House recycling project was constructed in my first grade classroom, and it definitely created a lot of excitement and interest in the whole school! It can be used as a learning center in Reading and other subjects and will last for years. This house was even used in a play! It can fold for storage, making it very portable. Since this project requires about 100 cereal boxes, it is a great 100th Day of School Activity!

Materials and Equipment:

Corrugated cardboard box from large appliance (refrigerator, upright freezer, etc.)
Additional corrugated cardboard for the roof and door
White glue (about a gallon)
Blue Painter’s Tape
Wide packing tape or duct tape
Cereal boxes (about 100)
8 Chenille stems (the same color as your roof)
Scissors, protractor, cutting blade

Directions and Construction:

First, I explained the project to my class, and they were excited! I told them it would take about 100 boxes to create this house, and I then sent a note to the parents asking that the students bring in empty cereal boxes.  

The base of the house was a large cardboard box (like a refrigerator or upright freezer box). 
Cut the bottom off of the box. Leave the sides of the box connected as you cut out the house shape.

Follow the directions and see the diagrams below to cut the house shape.

Please Note: 
  • Measurements and # of cereal boxes will vary depending on the size of your appliance box.    
  • All cutting of the cardboard should be done by an adult.

Diagram A

Below is a "flattened" view of the house cutout. Make sure yours remains connected on all 4 sides.

Diagram B - "Flattened" view of the house cutout 

For the door, draw and cut a large rectangle in one tall end about 20" wide and 42" high. Cut the top and one side. (See Diagram A above.) Score and fold out, creating the door. Cut an extra rectangle of corrugated cardboard and glue on the door for reinforcement. Glue an extra piece of folded cardboard to the bent (hinged) side of the door for more stability and durability. Reinforce the door “hinge” with wide clear tape or duct tape. To add a rope handle to the door, first punch 2 holes in the door. Insert rope in the holes from the outside and tie together in the inside, leaving loose enough for a hand to be inserted easily to open.

You may need to cut a small amount off the bottom of the door for easier opening before adding the cereal boxes.

The rope handle is attached to the
door in the above photo.
For the roof, measure the width and total length of both sides of the cardboard. Add 6 inches to the length and width for overhang. Cut a piece of cardboard to the measurements, and fold in the middle to fit.  Cut two large rectangular “skylights” in the roof about 18" wide and 8" high. The skylights allow for light to enter and also allow for appropriate supervision/observation.

Windows, Option 1 – Draw and cut 2 rectangles approximately 14" wide and 12" high) for windows in opposite sides of the house. (See Diagram A above.) Cut the rectangles completely out.

Windows, Option 2 – On opposite sides of the house, draw and cut the top, bottom, and down the middle of the window shapes. Score and bend the sides out, creating “shutters”.

The roof, inside of door, and shutters can be painted or covered with paper, Contac paper, etc.  We cut and glued paper to our roof to resemble shingles. 

Adding the Cereal Boxes

Cover the floor with plastic to catch any glue drips. 

Determine which side of each cereal box will be showing. Glue the tops of the boxes closed. Glue the box bottoms if needed. Liberally apply white Elmer’s Glue to the back of the cereal boxes. Let the glue set a few minutes and get “tacky” before pressing each box to the house. If needed, use blue Painter’s tape to hold boxes securely until dry. 

Continue gluing boxes to the outside of the house shape and outside of the door. If any space remains, especially on the corners, cut and glue pieces of cereal boxes so that the entire cardboard shape is covered.

Attaching the Roof

Use a protractor or sharp scissors to punch 2 holes in the house roof in 4 places on each side (see Diagram D below) and 1 hole in the corresponding place on the house. Put both ends of the chenille stem down through each set of holes in the roof, and put 1 end through the hole in the house. Twist to connect the house to the roof from the inside of the house. 

Diagram D
See dots for holes for chenille stems.
To fold the house for storage or moving, remove the chenille stems and the house will fold together. The boxes will stick out, but the roof will fold flat.

Additional Notes:
  • The inside of the house can be painted, wallpapered, etc. I allowed the kids to draw pictures, furniture, etc., on the inside.
  • Keep the "furniture" simple - small chairs and/or stools.
  • Lightweight curtains can be added by attaching “spring” curtain rods.
  • Carpet squares can be used on the floor. Carpet companies often donate carpet samples to schools.
  • You can allow students to glue cereal boxes as they are brought it, or wait until you have about 100 before allowing them to glue the boxes.
  • Reading - "Read" the cereal boxes. Design a chart, and each day let a different group read in the Cereal Box House.
  • Health and NutritionAs each cereal box is brought in, you can read about the nutritional value, calories, etc., and compare with other cereals.
  • Math Integration - Keep track of Number of Cereal Boxes by adding a tally mark for each. A chart can also be constructed with Types of Cereal and tally marks added as cereal is brought in. Make a bar graph of favorite cereals. Measure the width, length, and height of the house. Measure the width and height of the door. Compute the area and perimeter of the house and door. Geometry - What shapes can you find on the house? Time - A play clock with movable hands can be added to the wall. A timer can determine how long each group is in the house.
  • Creative Writing Topics – "My Favorite Cereal", "If I Were a Box of Cereal", "What Can You Make from a Cereal Box?"
  • Social Studies - Where is each cereal made? (Locate on a map.) How does the cereal get to your store?
  • Science - What are the ingredients of the cereal? Why does it get soggy in milk? If you leave a box of cereal open, what happens? Why?
  • Trail Mix - ask students to bring 1 cup of cereal from their box and make a Trail Mix!
  • Reading/TechnologyResearch materials used for building homes.
  • Etc.

Photo from the news clipping
that appeared in the newspaper

100 cereal boxes + 1 gallon of glue = lots of fun!!


  1. I do not remember this house but I do remember a coffee can house/spaceship I do believe. :-) I was in your 93/94 Ashford class. -Lee S.

  2. Hi, Lee! I remember when you were in my class. I wrote a blog post describing the rocket. You can read about it at:

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.